just thought i'd start a board here where we can give little shout-outs to the culinary gems created by the mom & pops, farmer's market stands, trucks, etc etc....being that we have a relatively "low-brow," small individual/family-owned restaurant culture here (and i mean this in SUCH a good way), it seems that by convention, most of these joints of a particular genre (i.e. korean, hawaii-style maki joints, plate lunch/local grindz etc etc) tend to serve MOSTLY the same stuff....i reckon they feel like they need to serve the mainstays to compete. problem is, i think very few of them do EVERYTHING really well. however, they each tend to have unique items or specialties on their menus to really set them apart...whether they are at the whimsy of the cooks/chefs, or dishes that are actually a specialty of the region of wherever they are from, these are dishes or snacks that really deserve to be eaten, even if the rest of the menu is ignorable. got any secret snacks around hawaii?
(i reckon this thread will be oahu centric, but i'd personally LOVE to know little gems on other islands, too, for my island-hopping hounding)
here's one of mine:
The Kimchee-Kalbi Fried Rice Stuffed Inari at Sumo Sushi
Sumo sushi is one of those quick, counter service maki joints that's in the Pali Safeway shopping center...in a totally weird spot for any business, its sort of along the back entrance to Longs/Safeway off Kukui Street, on the back of the building housing the People's Cafe. The woman that runs the joint is such a sweetheart, always friendly and grateful you came in. i havent had too many things there (just some handrolls mostly and a decent udon soup), but they do a pretty good job with the things i've tried. On the wall (not on the menu) is a computer print out of the gem: the kimcheekalbifriedricestuffedinari. Sounded interesting, so I took the bait. She makes and stuffs them fresh to order, fries up the rice and throws in some small pieces of kimchee and kalbi and seasons it with what i think is the kimchee sauce (not sure - i'm no expert on korean grub) stuffs them into some sweeet moist aburaage and i think tops it with some green onion. Serves up 5 or 6 inari piping hot for 6 bucks or so and DAMN these things are wonderfully balanced, slightly spicy, tangy, sweet. these are mostly about the fried rice, dont expect huge chunks of kalbi or kim chee, but they are there and provide some texture for nibblin' - welcome to flavor country. She really knocks it out of the park with this little uniquity, go give it a shot and support the l'il guys....